WHAT'S ON FOR #MELBFOODANDWINE?

 It's just around the corner! 16-25 March, 2018.

It's just around the corner! 16-25 March, 2018.

With our access to quality produce and ingenious creativity, Melbourne has made a name for itself as a foodie destination. Now in its 25th year, no event celebrates our food and wine culture quite like the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival! Kicking off on the 16th of March until the 25th of March, there are literally hundreds of events you can take part in to celebrate the gastronomic playground that is our city. To make things easy for you, here are our top five picks from the MFWF program:

 

Gin Botanical Lunch by Bass & Flinders Distillery and Shadowboxer Bar & Kitchen

To all you gin-lovers out there, this one’s for you! Based on the Mornington Peninsula, bespoke distillery, Bass & Flinders, have partnered with South Yarra establishment, Shadowboxer, to bring you a four-course luncheon with matching gin cocktails. You’ll be taken on a journey to discover the wondrous botanicals used in each cocktail and learn about botanic distillates, while enjoying an absolutely exquisite meal. The luncheon is sure to be a popular choice, so get your tickets quick!

 

The Gin Botanical Lunch is on Sunday, 25th of March from 12:30pm – 3:00pm at Shadowboxer Bar & Kitchen (302 Toorak Rd, South Yarra). Tickets available here: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/gin-botanical-lunch-7015

 

 

“The Best Butter Chicken” Pop-Up by The Press Club

On his last trip to India, George Calombaris fell in love with the spices and delicious aromas of butter chicken. So, he decided to bring the world best butter chicken chef, Saransh Goila, all the way from Mumbai to Melbourne to celebrate the MFWF. At this event, you’ll be able to meet Chef Saransh, have a taste of his incredible butter chicken and, to top it all off, George has specially created the perfect cocktail specifically designed for this event. Keep in mind that this is a stand up event, so make sure you’ve got comfy shoes on!

 

“The Best Butter Chicken” Pop-Up is on between the 16th – 25th of March at the Press Club – Projects (52 Flinders St, Melbourne). Tickets available here: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/the-best-butter-chicken-pop-up-6929

 

 

Ales on Rails

If you’re looking to get out of the city, or maybe just for something a little different, hop on board Ales on Rails, the ultimate steam train experience! Indulge in 1920s luxury as your steam train chugs across the Victorian countryside. Along the journey, stewards will serve beers, local wines and ciders. At your destination, you’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch at Maldon’s Kangaroo Hotel, as well as a beer from their extensive craft beer range. Now, with good food and delicious drinks, doesn’t that sound like the ultimate day in the countryside?

Ales on Rails will be taking passengers on Saturday, 17th of March and Saturday 24th of March at 12:00pm. Tickets available here: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/ales-on-rails-6977

 

 

An Ethiopian Banquet

It’s fair to say that African cuisine remains fairly undiscovered in Melbourne, so why not branch out an uncover a new experience at an Ethiopian banquet? At Konjo Café, you’ll experience a communal meal like no other with an amazing buffet of mild and spicy meat stews and vegetarian dishes. You’ll also have homemade honey and barley drinks to quench your thirst. This event is family friendly so make sure to bring the little ones!

 

An Ethiopian Banquet will be on on the 16th, 17th, 22nd and 23rd of March from 6:30pm at Konjo Café (89 Irving St, Footscray). Tickets available here: http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/program/an-ethiopian-banquet-6849

 

 

Long Chim Bangkok Markets

Yearning to discover Thailand, but haven’t quite been able to get there? Well, the team at Long Chim have brought Bangkok to you! For one weekend only, Southbank’s Crown Riverwalk will come alive with the energy, colour and delicious smells of Bangkok’s street food scene. You’ll find floating lanterns, a diverse range of food stalls, bars and live entertainment. And the best part? It’s free admission!

 

The Long Chim Bangkok Markets are on from Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th of March from 12:00pm to 10:00pm on Crown Riverwalk outside Long Chim (8 Whiteman Street, Southbank). Free admission.

I Am Woman!

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We all have women we love, whether it’s our mothers, our sisters, our daughters or our friends. We wouldn’t be here without them and they make our lives whole with their care, their creativity and, in most cases, their cooking! International Women’s Day is an international day of celebration that takes place every year on the 8th of March. It commemorates the achievements of women all over the world while continuing to call for global gender parity. If you’d like to take part in International Women’s Day, here’s some events taking place in Melbourne:

 

Melbourne International Women’s Day Breakfast

Australia’s largest celebration of International Women’s Day, the Melbourne International Women’s Day Breakfast is hosted by the UN Women National Committee Australia every year. MC’d by Tracey Spicer, author, journalist, TV presenter and co-founder of Women in Media, this year’s breakfast promises to be an informative and inspiring event. Panellists include Smriti Aryal, UN Women’s Regional Advisor for Humanitarian Respons and Resilienve Building, and Hiba Qasas, Chief of the Crisis Prevention Preparedness and Response of UN Women based in Geneva.

 

The Melbourne International Women’s Day Breakfast is on the 7th of March 2018, 7am – 9am at Melbourne Park Function Centre (Batman Ave, Melbourne). Tickets available here: https://purchase.humanitix.com.au/en-AU/events/melbourne%20international%20women's%20day%20breakfast/2018-3-7_7.00/melbourne%20park%20function%20centre?hallmap

 

 IML International Women’s Day Great Debate

If you’re looking for something a little more light-hearted, head to the International Women’s Day Great Debate. Now in its 20th year, the Great Debate offers an afternoon of entertainment from a group of six high profile who will debate the iconic feminist slogan, ‘the future is female’. Jane Caro, author, journalist and social commentator, will be on hand as MC to keep the debate on-track.

 

The IML International Women’s Day Great Debate is on the 8th of March, 2018, 12pm – 2:30pm at the RACV City Club (501 Bourke St, Melbourne). Tickets available here: https://iml.eventsair.com/iml-international-womens-great-debate---melbourne/waitlist/Site/Register

 

MAA 1000 Women, 1000 Futures Lunch Launch

Though women have come a long way, there’s still more we can do to help empower women to pursue their dreams and take ownership of their future. The 1000 Women, 1000 Futures (TWTF) campaign is a Muslim Aid Australia (MAA) initiative, which will be launched in Melbourne at a lunch event in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The initiative aims to raise funds which will be gifted in $1,000 grants to women in developing countries whose families are victims of poverty, war, or natural disaster to help them set up small businesses. This event is a female-only event (sorry, gents!)

The MAA 1000 Women, 1000 Futures Lunch Launch will take place on the 8th of March 2018, 11am at Darebin Arts Centre. For tickets call: +61421491486.

Women, Light the Way Art Exhibition

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Box Hill Community Arts Centre will be displaying Women, Light the Way, an exhibition of art by female artists that celebrate creativity and joie de vivre. Using a range of mixed media, the works will showcase how a woman’s view can change the world. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet the artists on Thursday 8th of March.

Women, Light the Way can be viewed from 6th – 25th March 2018, Mon – Friday 9am – 5pm at Box Hill Community Arts Centre (470 Station Street Box Hill).

Here comes Santa Claus...

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The twinkle of Christmas lights, the sound of carols blasting all around us, the sight of presents under the tree and the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven – there’s no doubt that Christmas is the most wonderful time of year! Sadly, we in Australia miss out on all the novelties of a white Christmas, like building a snowman or roasting chestnuts in the fireplace. While this idea may bum you out, fear not! There are plenty of events and activities around Melbourne that will keep the magic of Christmas well and truly alive!

Christmas Carols

What Christmas would be complete without Christmas carols? If you’re looking to belt out some festive tunes, there are various carols by candlelight events being held all over Melbourne. Of course, the biggest and most well known event is Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight, where all funds raised go toward supporting kids who are blind or have low vision.

Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight is on 24th December 2017, 8pm – 11pm at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Tickets available through Ticketmaster. The event will also be broadcast live on Channel 9.

Myer Christmas Windows

The Myer Christmas Windows have become a well-loved Christmas tradition in Melbourne with crowds gathering outside the displays every year to witness the charming tableaus of animated figurines. This year, more than 30 artisans have spent 10 months crafting the displays. Based on the theme of Christmas being a time for family, the windows follow the epic adventure of Myer’s own Christmas characters, Elf, Reindeer, Mouse and Angel.

The Myer Christmas Windows are displayed at Myer Melbourne (314 – 336 Bourke St) from 12th December 2017 – 4th January 2018.

 Artvo Christmas Exhibition at Crown

If you’re yet to take your annual Christmas card family photo, head to the Artvo Christmas Exhibition at Crown. Immersive, ‘trick art’ gallery, Artvo, has set up eight Christmas scenes, where visitors are encouraged to interact with the artwork and can insert themselves into the picture to create a unique and delightfully festive image!

The Artvo Christmas Exhibition runs from the 12th – 28th December 2017 at Crown Melbourne (8 Whiteman St, Southbank).

 Santa’s Magical Kingdom

Of course, Christmas in Australia coincides with the summer holidays. So, if you’ve got little ones who need to be occupied, why not take them to experience the magic of Christmas at Santa’s Magical Kingdom? With gingerbread decorating, rides and attractions, an art and craft village, the chance to play in snow and to meet Santa, there’s no doubt this will be an unforgettable Christmas experience!

Santa’s Magical Kingdom runs from 17th November – 23rd December 2017 at Caulfield Racecourse. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.

 Christmas Lights

Whilst they may not look all that impressive in the daylight, a string of fairy lights proves to be something quite magical in the dark. Now imagine this on a huge scale where, across the city, entire houses, driveways and gardens are lit up with Christmas lights and giant decorations. The brightest, craziest lights can be found in Montmorency and Preston, where you can donate to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation respectively. Many of these streets, such as the Boulevard in Ivanhoe, also provide food for sale and entertainment from local community groups, ensuring a great time to be had by all!

Montmorency: 150 Reichelt Ave, Montmorency from 1st – 28th December 2017, 7:30pm – 11pm. Preston: 47 Gordon Grove, Preston from 1st – 26th December 2017. Ivanhoe: The Boulevard, Ivanhoe from 16th – 24th December 2017, 8:30pm – 11:30pm.

Summer Loving!

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Summer is well and truly upon us. Just open up your weather app to see the string of 30-degree days coming up. But, with the crippling bouts of hay fever and awful tan lines comes the return of another great Melbourne tradition: the summer markets.


Of course, number one on our list are the Night Noodle Markets. The range of Asian-inspired, street-style dishes from Melbourne’s most renowned restaurants and eateries has delighted us for the last four years and this year is no exception. Crowd favourites like Mr. Miyagi and Gelato Messina are back, but also look out
for newcomers from interstate such as Sydney’s Spanthai and Canberra’s Donburi station. With these tasty treats, live music and a glass of Pimm’s from the Garden Bar, what could be better? Don’t forget that the Night Noodle Markets are now cashless so leave your coin purse at home!


The Night Noodle Markets are on between November 9 – 26 at Birrarung Marr (entry byFederation Square). Full menu here: https://www.goodfoodmonth.com/menu/

The other big player on Melbourne’s summer market scene is the Queen Victoria Summer Night Market. In the heart of the city, the Summer Market promises a multicultural feast ranging from Boston Bagels to flavoursome Nepalese fare. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’ll find refreshing juices from Market Juice or Coldstream Cider and Running Bull Sangria at the Garden Bar. Apart from the food stalls, there will also be over 130 art, craft and fashion stalls and live music.
However, the fun doesn’t stop there. This year’s season will feature a series of themed nights, including Rockabilly night, Luna New Year, Valentine’s Day and Latin night.


The QVM Summer Night Markets are on every Wednesday, 5pm – 10pm between November 15, 2017 – April 11, 2018 (excluding December 27) at Queen Victoria Market. Full menu here: https://www.thenightmarket.com.au/food-drink/

If you’re looking for a new foodie experience, head to The Food Truck Park Summer Residency, Melbourne’s latest summer food truck park in the newly redeveloped Harbour Town. While little is known about the exact offerings, the weekly rotating line up of all-star food trucks, live DJ’s and giveaways is sure to make the Food Truck Park the hangout spot of the summer. Launch weekend is
on Friday November 17 – Sunday November 19, where *free* sweet treats will be available for the 300 guests.


The Food Truck Park Summer Residency runs 11am – 5pm between November 17 – 19, 2017 (and every Friday until the end of February 2018) at Waterfront Way, Docklands (opposite the East Carpark).

Summer in Australia means the arrival of Christmas. So, as much as we love our food, the summer markets also offer us a chance to find the best gift for that special someone. Just over the fence from The Food Truck Park, you’ll find Blender Artist Market setting up shop. Relocating from their previous Franklin Street location, the market is open every Friday from November 11 to March 30 at District Docklands. Featuring some of Melbourne’s most skilful and creative
artists, the market is sure to be a treasure-trove of one-of- a-kind finds. If the thought of Christmas shopping gives you the sweats, take comfort in the fact that there will also be live music and entertainment, a fully licensed bar and open art studios to explore.


Blender Artist Market runs every Friday night, 5pm to 9pm between November 17 – March
20 at The District, Docklands Drive.

If you’re really panicked about the Christmas shopping, head to The Arts Centre Sunday Market. Based in Melbourne’s arts precinct, the market provides a relaxed environment that features Melbourne’s best craftspeople and artisans, ensuring that everything on offer will be locally made and creatively unique. You’ll find everything from handmade trinkets to delicious delicacies. Stallholders rotate weekly, giving you the best chance of finding the perfect gift.


The Arts Centre Sunday Market takes place every Sunday, 10am – 4pm between November
19, 2017 – January 21, 2018 at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Edible Cookie Dough has landed...

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There’s no denying that cookie dough is one of the more interesting dessert trends of 2017. Maybe it’s because we all have nostalgic memories of stealing a sneaky spoonful of delicious dough while baking cookies in the family kitchen. And of course, mum would tell us off, warning us about stomach cramps and salmonella because well, cookie dough is mainly flour mixed with raw eggs. But, there’s good news! Edible cookie dough gurus have now solved this problem by designing recipes that contain heat-treated flour and using either pasteurised eggs, or no eggs at all, genius!!

So where did this dessert craze come from? The idea of edible cookie dough has its origins in the United States, where supermarkets stock logs of frozen, pre-made cookie dough that can be cut up and put in the oven with minimal preparation. But there were those of us who, too impatient for the final, delivered product, just ate the dough in all its naked glory. This spawned the cookie dough craze and the rest is history.   

From its humble beginnings, edible cookie dough has blown up as a dessert in its own right. There are now a huge variety of flavours from triple chocolate to apple & cinnamon. But, it doesn't stop there. Cookie dough is also often scooped into waffle cones and mixed with sauces and toppings, or incorporated into other desserts to create delectable delights no one can refuse!

To get your cookie dough fix in Melbourne, order online at Cookie Doh Co. (also available at Bistro Morgan in a cookie dough doughnut sandwich) or Cookie Dough Dream.

What the heck is Frozen Custard?

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If you haven't had a run in with frozen custard or encountered its enticing, creamy deliciousness on your Instagram feed, you've been living under a rock. It’s been all the rage overseas, especially in the US, and now it’s blowing up here in Melbourne. 

Frozen custard is a gourmet, frozen dessert made with milk, cream and a small percentage of egg yolk that originated from Coney Island, NY as a carnival treat at the turn of the century. It might sound like I’ve just described ice cream, but the way that frozen custard is made is quite different and produces a more luxurious finish. Instead of being frozen in a batch freezer, frozen custard is typically made fresh everyday and churned in a continuous freezer where the amount of air beaten into the fold is minimised. With less air, fewer ice crystals are created, resulting in an ice cream that is denser, smoother and silkier.

The best way to enjoy frozen custard is by ordering a frozen custard concrete: a delicious mess of frozen custard mixed with your favourite lollies, fudges, fruits and nuts!

Frozen custard can be found in Melbourne at Chiquito & Co., Royal Stacks and Laurie Dee’s Hamburgers and Frozen Custard.

Winter is coming....

It has been a bitterly cold winter to date in Melbourne and you could be forgiven for thinking you were living in the Northern Hemisphere on some of those icy and gloomy mornings. But a cold, prolonged winter has a silver lining... comfort food and lots of it. We need to stack on those extra layers of fat to protect us from the elements and a food coma is just the trick. Our little hit list will help guide you to Melbourne's best destinations for resplendent, glorious comfort food that will help lift your spirits, even in the depths of this wild and wooly winter. 

FIVE WINTER DESTINATIONS THAT YOU MUST EXPERIENCE BEFORE THE BIG THAW: 

Zia Theresa, 90 Lygon St, Brunswick East

On a Wednesday night this charming and cosy Italian restaurant serves up a generous bowl of authentic and rustic pasta, plus a house wine for just $20. A fire flickers away and the glowing dining room is a welcome respite from the cold outside. A carb overload is encouraged here and the service is warm and cheery. 

Hakata Gensuke, 168 Russell Street, CBD

Patience is a virtue and you'll be waiting outside for a table in the big chill while you salivate over the extensive selection of ramen at this famous city locale but it's definitely worth the wait. Slurp down on a bowl of the signature pork bone broth or chow down on chicken karrage (Japanese deep fried chicken) and you'll soon forget the lashing wind and rain outside. Prices are very reasonable and the service is well, very Japanese and we just love their sense of boundless enthusiasm and fun. 

Marion's Wine Bar, 53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

A smorgasbord of shared plates and impeccable vinos are the order of the day at this beautiful Fitzroy wine bar, run by the legendary Andrew McConnell. Oysters, confit duck, a whole rainbow trout and mussels and nduja are just some of the dishes designed to whet the appetite. Wines by the glass are on the expensive side but this is a Friday night destination for pure indulgence and quality. 

The Union Club Hotel, 164 Gore Street, Fitzroy

Another beauty north of the river, shoot some pool in front of the open fire at The Union Club and then tuck into some classic pub fare which includes the Holstein Chicken Schnitzel, a Panko crumbed free range chicken breast topped with fried egg and served with crispy bacon sauerkraut, our favourite dish. Beers flow, there's plenty of decent wine to quaff and the burgers are just $15 on Sunday's. Just a few solid reasons to hibernate here during those long winter weekends. 

Pho Hien Saigon, 3/284 Hampshire Road, Sunshine

Nothing but exemplary Pho served up at this Sunshine institution. The broth simmers for 12 hours and you can smell the flavours and aromatics as you walk in the door. Thin tender beef slices or chicken breast is served over chewy noodles with a delicious savoury broth to boot. Cheap, cheery and quite simply, a winter wonderland. 

A guide: A quiet tipple in Melbourne town

 Photo courtesy of Sharking for Chips and Drinks

Photo courtesy of Sharking for Chips and Drinks

After a long, laborious day at work full of emails, pointless meetings and inane shop talk, sometimes a quiet drink post-work is an obligatory exercise . If you don't want the hustle and bustle of Friday night drinks, the buzzing hum of conversation and the incessant clink of glassware, then we have a guide to Melbourne's best bars for a quiet night cap (well, at least before you arrive home to howling kiddies and hungry pets). There is no shortage of bars in Melbourne, we are definitely spoilt for choice but where do you find the best ambient bars to enjoy a peaceful chinwag and your favourite alcoholic concoction? Look no further, here are our top 3 venues in Melbourne for that quiet tipple you lovingly crave when the clock hits 5pm on a slow and weary Wednesday.  

ROMEO LANE, 1A CROSSLEY STREET, MELBOURNE, Just off busy Bourke Street and down one of our cities famous laneways, Romeo Lane is a quiet and intimate digs with that warm art deco, living room feel.  It's small and cosy and they sling cocktails from midday (you heard us correctly), serving up classic mixes with an interesting twist. Try a Scotch Manhattan inspired by the hoity-toity Savoy Hotel in London or perhaps a Daisy De Santiago is more your style; aged rum daiquiri infused with yellow chartreuse and poured over cracked ice. Top shelf booze is the order of the day at Romeo Lane and you can't pass their fine selection of sherry, cognac and gin to boot. Whatever your fancy, this is an ambient beauty in the heart of our glorious city.

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BAR AMERICANO, 20 PRESGRAVE PL, MELBOURNE One of our absolute favourite haunts, Bar Americano is perhaps Melbourne's most quintessential laneway bar and is a serene destination for a knock off. A compact bar is an understatement and this is standing room only but that's all part of the fun. Their cocktail list changes weekly, no cheesy Instagram selfies are allowed (hallelujah) and their cocktails are genuinely made with love and finesse. Order their famous Americano, showcasing house-infused vermouth, bitters, lemon juice and soda and forget our cold, winter for just a second as you enjoy one of Melbourne's best cocktail experiences.

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WHISKEY AND ALEMENT, 270 RUSSELL STREET, MELBOURNE If you work day has been particularly hellish, nothing is more therapeutic than the impressive selection of fine whiskies at Whiskey and Alement. More than 600 Whiskies grace the bar and this little beauty has evolved into a world class destination for whisky drinkers. Dark, broody lighting encourages a dram or three, staff are friendly, open to candid discussion and passionate when it comes to the good stuff. Lastly, rumour has it, they make a killer martini, talk about covering all bases, Whiskey and Alement is a beast and a very friendly one at that. 

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